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Heidegger_indeterminability of Time Sein Und Zeit

Heidegger_indeterminability of Time Sein Und Zeit

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Philosophy and
Phenomenological Research
Vol.
XLVI,
No. 3,
March
198e
The Indeterminability of Time in"Sein und Zeit"
PATRICK BIGELOW
"What we call time is simplytruth's inability to coincide with
itself.
"
—Paul Dfc Man
Allegories of Reading"Existence is an unexpected arrivalof its proper impossibility.
"
—Emmanuel Levinas
"Unlösbaren Rätsel sindWidersinn."
—Edmund Husserl
Erste Philosophie
II
"Für
alle das fehlen uns Namen.
"
—Edmund Husserl
Zur Phänomenologie desInneren Zeitbewusstseins"Somewhere in the secondinstallment of his reminiscences ofthe South, Magister Ussing callstime 'the galloping ghost/ Godknows if this is his ownexpression; in any case it is verydescriptive. But the dialectical taskhere is simply to get to see theghost, and to that extent time itselfcannot be called a ghost
,
for thesophistry of time is precisely thatone cannot see it.
"
—S0ren KierkegaardVU!
1
A 193
n.d.,
1847
THE INDETERMINABILITY OF TIME IN "SEIN UND ZEIT" 357
 
As should be well known, Husserl, the most militant, vigilant, and virulent metaphysician, opens his 1905 lectures on time-consciousness wich
a
remark about St. Agustine. It reads:
The analysis of rime-consciousness is an age-old crux of descriptive psychology andtheory of knowledge. The
 first
 thinker to
he
deeply sensitive to the immense difficulties to befound here was Augustine. Chapters 13-18 of Book XI of the
Confessions
must even todaybe thoroughly studied by everyone concerned with the problem of time. For no one in thisknowledge-proud modern generation has made more masterful or significant progress in
these
matters than this great thinker who struggled so earnestly with the problem. One maystill say with
Augustine:
si nemo a me
quarat,
scio, si quaerenti ex p Hear e
velium,
nescio
[I
know what it is if
no
one asks me what it
is;
but if
1
warn to explain it to someone who hasasked me,
1
find that I do not
know].
1
And,
as
is well known, Heidegger, in
Sein und
Zeit,
has
a
short study
of
"the vulgar conception of time," in which the
Confessions
is examinedvirtually always alongside texts by Aristotle. There is a difference here,between how these two phenomenologists conceive Augustine's work ontime: for Husserl, Augustine was the
"erste,"
the
"giosse
and
ernst
rin
gende
Denker,
"
when it comes to timetalk; but for Heidegger, Augustineis merely repeating the litany of
the
ordinary levelled-down interpretationof
time as a
"succession of instances of 'now',"
a
litany that
was
 first
 givenvoice to
by
Aristotle in
Physics
IV. There is clearly
a
difference here.
But is
it any more than just a matter of rhetoric (or of heuristics)? In any eventthere is a difference that no longer goes unnoticed. Let us (re)mark it.
In
Section
6
of
Part II
of
the
published portion of
Sein und Zeit
Heidegger gives his thinking over to the analysis of time that covers up its ownessential understanding of
the
meaning of being. "The vulgar conceptionof time," Heidegger instructs us, "owes its origin to the way in which primordial time has been levelled off
[Nievelierung der
ursprünglichen
Zeit]"
(p. 405). This vulgar conception of time, we are told, is time interpreted as a "continually enduring sequence of pure 'nows'" (p. 409).However, this conception of time is one that keeps temporality "covered
up"
[verdeckt);
and by reason
of
this covering up, the time which weencounter in "ordinary" experience has gaps in it. These gaps must bekept in sight, and in order to do that the theoretical "representation" oftime as a continuous inbreaking and slipping-away stream of "nows"must
be
subject
to
critical examination —
or
so
the
claim goes.
"In the
vulgar interpretation of time as a sequence of *nows\ both datability andsignificance are
missing.
These two structures are
not
permitted to *come
Edmund Husserl,
Zur Phänomenologie des Inneren Zeitbewusstseins,
ed. Rudolph
Boehm (The Hague: Marrinus
Nijhoff,
1966), p. 3. Trans,
The
Phenomenology
of
Internal
Time-Consciousness,
trans. James S. Churchill (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964)» p. 21.358 PATRICK BIGELOW
 
to the fore
1
[zum Vorschein kommen]
when time is characterized as puresuccession. The vulgar interpretation of time
covers them up"
(p. 428).Time, Heidegger assures us» cannot be rightly or rightfully represented.In §81 of
Sein und Zeit,
entitled
"Die Innerzeitigkeit und die Genesisdes vulgären Zeitbegriffes,"
Heidegger examines both Aristotle's and St.Augustine's interpretation as determinative representations of tunc as acontinuous sequence of "nows." St. Augustine's conception of time is virtually always cited alongside Aristotle's, thereby suggesting the inter-changeability of the two. In the course of studying these texts — the lastpart of
Physics
IV and Book XI of the
Confessions
— Heidegger attemptsto give their conception its "rightful due." He talks about the
"merkwürdigen Rätselhaftigkeit"
of the ''representational" interpretation of time. By virtue of our insistence that time passes away we gain, orso we are instructed, a kind of "fugitive" access to a more onginary experience of time than the presumably abstractive one we find described inthese two texts.There are two problems that need to be addressed
if
we are to understand the force of Heidegger's analysis. They are:1.To render the
u
merkwürdige Rätselhaftigkeit"
of the originary conception of time intelligible. We shall see that this remarkable perplexityhas three forms: (a) the perplexity to which both Aristotle and Augustineattest when trying to make public an account of time; (b) the riddle of howthe ordinary conception of time founds metaphysics by virtue of beingthat upon which metaphysics founders; (c) the puzzlement over Heidegger's failure to clarify whether time gets interpreted, conceived, or simplyunderstood. This latter puzzle, as we shall see, is decisive for showing thatHeidegger's attempt to enact a non-vulgar, non-ordinary conception oftime is defeated in advance by the perplexities attendant upon the"ordinary" conception of time. In particular, Heidegger's account is, madvance, destined to failure by virtue of the fact that there is an impossibility inscribed in any account of time, the impossibility of there beinganything
but
an ordinary account of time.
2.
To show this, however, we must first instigate measures for remarking the difference between Aristotle's "naturalistic" conception of timeand Augustine's "allegorical" plea for an understanding of time that isultimately redemptive, i.e., that is the entry from history into sacred time.But of course on this score our work has already been carried out — notably by Derrida in his early essay
ui
Ousia
and
Gramme
1
:
Note on a Notefrom
Being and Time"
and Paul Ricoeur in his recent book
Time andNarrative.
1
It just remains for us to recapitulate his thought, as precisely
* Jacques Derrida,
u
Ousia
and
Gramme:
Note on a Note from
Being and
Time/'
Margins
THE rNDETERMINABILITY OF TIME IN "SEIN UND ZEIT" 359

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